Explaining Fibromyalgia in Six Quick Points

Fibromyalgia is a term that has been thrown around for years. For many years the medical profession used Fibromyalgia as a catch all. People who had generalized pain that couldn’t be diagnosed would be given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The medical profession didn’t really seem to understand what caused it, and what could be done to treat it. In the past decade the condition has become much more understood and there are new diagnostic criteria that the patient must meet. I will discuss those shortly. Like many other conditions the more research that is done the more everyone understands it and it can be treated.

1. So what IS Fibromyalgia? The definition for this condition has evolved over the years. For now it is defined as a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas.

2. How many people have Fibromyalgia? Most recent estimates say that there are 3 million cases per year!! According to The National Fibromyalgia Association, Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain disorders. It is estimated that 10 million people in the U.S. are affected, and an estimated 3-6% of the world population. This condition is normally seen in women, approximately 75-90% affected are women. But it also occurs in men and children of all ethnic backgrounds.

3. What causes Fibromyalgia? Currently researchers are not exactly sure of the cause of FM. That being said more research is being done all the time that is leading in the direction of determining the exact cause. Most agree though that FM is caused by issues with the nervous system. They feel that those with FM will experience amplification of pain due to the abnormal way the nervous system is processing the signal. The newest research is leading in the direction that there may be a genetic predisposition in those who have FM. I expect to see a lot of new information coming on this front in the coming years!

4. What symptoms would a person with Fibromyalgia present with? The main complaints a person with Fibromyalgia usually present with the following: pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

Pain– The pain that comes along with this condition is usually chronic and widespread. It can be felt all throughout the body and may vary in intensity. The pain can be described as stabbing, shooting, aching, throbbing or even as numbness and tingling. Usually people will complain of morning stiffness and abdominal pain until they get stretched out.

Fatigue– The fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia is much, much more than just being tired at the end of the day. This fatigue is an all-encompassing exhaustion that interferes with daily life! It is causes an inability to complete basic tasks.

Trouble Sleeping– Often times many people who have FM also have some sort of a sleep disorder that prevents them from getting a deep, restful, restorative nights sleep! This making the fatigue that much worse!

Cognitive difficulties – Many who suffer from FM will complain of “fibro fog.” Which is also known as brain fog. This is a symptom of fibromyalgia where you feel as though you can not think straight. You may have trouble understanding things, remembering things, or even losing things. All of which can be “normal” with Fibromyalgia. This is a form of cognitive dysfunction that comes and goes with FM.

5. How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed? In 1990 the American College if Rheumatology (ACR) developed classification criteria for diagnosis. The criteria included a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum of 3 months prior to diagnosis. It also required that the patient have pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender spots. In 2010 the ACR developed new diagnostic criteria that did not rely on evaluation of tender points. Instead focused on the person’s pain being widespread and accompanied with other symptoms like problems sleeping, and fatigue. They also take into account the cognitive issues that the patient may be feeling/dealing with.

6. How is Fibromyalgia treated? In order to effectively treat FM the symptoms need to be treated. Thus treatment is really about symptom management via medications,or other treatment modalities. Medications or other treatments like massage to reduce pain, sleep management and finding ways to lower stress are the main treatment modalities. Exercise and eating healthy, as with most conditions are encouraged to help lower the pain level. A person with FM will also need to discuss the cognitive difficulties they may be having with their provider so a proper treatment plan and recommendations can be made.

This was a quick and dirty way to explain Fibromyalgia, how many people are impacted, the suspected causes of FM, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Even with the changes in diagnostic criteria and more research being done, FM is still not fully understood. And treatments often end up being trial by error. One medication/treatment may be prescribed and if that works they will continue it. If not, they will continue down the line trying to figure out what works for each person. And the fact that many will also experience a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lupus & Arthritis can complicate things. That being said over the last decade the understanding of the disease has increased and they are always working on new medications for treatment of FM. Based on the trends over the last few years it should be expected that there will be big advances in the understanding and treatment of FM. This post just shows more clearly that those who suffer from FM are NOT alone! It also shows that patients need to continue to advocate not only for their own care, and the care of others who can’t advocate for themselves. And more focus needs to pushed through the proper government channels to advocate for more money for research of this condition!

With Love,

Amber

Why Does Weather Make The Pain Worse?

Okay I know I can’t be the only one who’s pain and comfort is impacted by the ever changing weather! And this winter/spring has been the WORST!! In the last two weeks it seems like my pain has been almost constant. I think it’s partially due to the fact that we’ve had 70-80 degree days with thunderstorms that turned into a 30-40 degree day with winter weathe !! Mother Nature sure has been a little confused as of late. I have never totally understood why the weather has such an impact on people with any kind of chronic pain. So I decided I would do a little research and share the information I’ve found!

Weather.com explained it like this, they say that the changes in barometric pressure are what causes the fluctuations in pain for everyone with arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis & fibromyalgia. Really, anyone who has chronic pain or migraines. It is said that any change in barometric pressure or change in the weight of the air that presses against the surface of the earth can cause headaches and increase joint pain. There have been studies done and published that show that two thirds of people with chronic pain in all parts of the US believes that there is a link in weather changes and increased joint pain and migraines. A study done with 800 Europeans with osteoarthritis found that 67% report that they feel that weather affects their pain!

Like those with chronic pain, migraine sufferers also report that their migraines are linked to weather patterns. It is believed that barometric pressure changes, along with changes in humidity and temperatures could potentially affect the pressure in the brain. Dr Steven Graff-Radford the director of a program for headaches at Cedar-Sinai states “Though the mechanism is somewhat unclear, what is quite clear is that overcast, cloudy and rainy days produce more migraines.” Mayo Clinic says that for some people changes in weather may cause imbalances in chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, which can potentially cause migraines. Allergies are also a big cause of headaches (migraines) this time of year. It’s getting warmer and all the things are blooming. If you have problems with allergies that lead to headache you need to be proactive. By taking antihistamines to help keep the allergies at a minimum. (Of course check with your doctor before taking any over the counter allergie medicines.)

One thing that everyone is sure of is that cold weather makes pain worse. Research has proven that when you are cold, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments tighten and become less flexible. One way to help reduce the pain due to cold weather is to stretch. Stretching will help to loosen those muscles, tendons and ligaments and help to make your body not so stiff and make it easier to move around. Even in days when you don’t feel like being active, doing some sort of exercise is important. Inactivity can actually increase some types of pain.

After doing my research the main things I found is that there is a real link between weather changes and increased pain levels and migraines. It’s great to know that it’s not just me that experiences that! I know that I am not. But sometimes it feels like you are the only one dealing with an issue. The best thing we can do to deal with the increased joint pain is to try and stay active. I know that’s much easier said then done. But especially this time of year when the weather is all over the place, staying active will help to keep you from getting stiff and having more pain. In reality all we can do is hope that Mother Nature settles down and the weather will become more stable.

Raising Awareness of Invisible Illness 

Invisble illness, invisible disability……. To those who don’t have one, most would assume that it’s in your head. Thus invisible. However, this so far from the truth An Invisible Ilness is an illness that cannot be seen outwardly.  So for instance; Migraines, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Kidney Disease, thyroid disease, Heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Chronic Pain. This list goes on forever!!  Invisible illnesses could even include mental illnesses. You can’t and most of the time will never see mental illness outwardly. They are conditions that can not be seen by just looking at someone. They are conditions that may be wreaking havoc on a person internally but you would never know because they may or may not be showing any signs outwardly. The Invisble Disabilities Association has deemed October 15, 2017 – October 21,2017 to be Invisoble Disabilitoes Week Online. A week to celebrate if you will, or bring conditions like these to the forefront. So let’s do just that. 
When you see someone in their thirties get out of a car they just parked in a handicap spot. What’s your first thought? For most I would almost guarantee it’s not “Oh how sad, I wonder what condition has made them disabled!”  For most it is probably more along the lines of “Look at that fat lazy girl taking up a handicap spot. I bet that tag belongs to her grandma or somethings!”  Now, don’t get me wrong not everyone thinks that way. But I know a large amount of people do. I have even caught myself at times thinking things I shouldn’t. Sadly in this day in age it just seems like second nature.  People don’t automatically assume that their may be a reason that a 32 year old slightly overweight female has some big bad illness because on the outside other than maybe a limp or the look of exhaustion on her face you don’t see anything wrong.  

    According To Everyday Health,  “But for the millions of people who are living with arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other forms of pain that are “invisible illnesses,” explaining what’s wrong is another side effect of their condition. Not only do you have to put up with challenging, often painful, and sometimes debilitating conditions every day, but on top of that, you may have to face skepticism from people — friends, family, and co-workers, as well as strangers — who don’t understand what’s wrong with you.”

    So what do you do to get past the skepticism and the non-believers? Do you put up bumper stickers with a list or your conditions? Or wear a T-shirt that says something along the lines of “Yes, I’m really sick? No!  Because you can’t change the way people think.  All we can do is pass on awareness to our friends and family. And even the people who follow us on social media. The only way we will ever get past the way people who view those of us with invisible illness is awareness. 

    Awareness can come in many forms. For me Blog. I can get my information out to larger volumes of people by blogging. I also use My social media accounts as platforms to spread awareness. Do people get tired of it? I’m sure! But we have to spread awareness for the Invisiblem Illnessea that are touching our families and friends. Should we shove it down peoples throats? Absolutely not, people aren’t going to change!  Some people will always think we are just lazy. And you know what we have to be okay with that bc we can’t change anyone else. 

    So help me help us this week by spreading awareness of Invisible Illness. One way we can do so this week is to change the frame on our face book profile picture to one that says I live with an Invisible Illness for the week. That just might open some eyes for people around you!!  The Huff Post posted this graphic and it feels like the perfect way to end this blog. But should you have any questions or anything please reach out!  

    Go out and spread awareness of your Invisible Illness/Disability!

    https://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/invisible-illness-when-others-cant-see-your-pain.aspx

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8178886

    MVA – How They Can Have an Impact on More Than Just the Car. 

    Man….. you don’t think about how one situation can totally mess up your whole system until it happens. I realized that a week ago today when I was in a car accident. It was nasty. But nothing broken. Just a concussion and a torn up knee. And lots of bumps and bruises. (And the other person wasn’t hurt either.)Then the realization set in yesterday that I am now in a lupus flare. And my adrenal glands are on their way to sending me into an adrenal crisis!!! I wrote my rheumatolgist to see if I could do steroids or anything to prevent the worsening flare. And she told me LIGHT STRETCHING was the only thing I could do. Really?!?!? You hurt as bad as I do everyday and then get on the floor and stretch. If I could even get to the floor there is no way in hades that I could get up. With my knee in an immobilizer and my arms so sore from crutches and the accident I’d be stuck. And they weren’t kidding when they said day two and three would be worse. Holy moly! It’s insane. 

    The scariest part of this whole ordeal wasn’t the accident itself. Simply bc I don’t remember it. But THAT statement is the scary part.  I have absolutely no idea what happened. The ambulance came quickly and whisked me away to the Emergency Room. That’s when everything stopped. Apparently they didn’t have any rooms in the back, so they set me in wheelchair with my c-collar, crying like a weirdo in the WAITING ROOM. This is where I sat for about two hours before I saw a nurse or dr.  Ya I get they were busy. But one would think that a car accident with loss of consciousness would trump other things but I guess not.  The whole time I was at the hospital I sat and balled. Like sobbing. I just couldn’t quit. But I am so glad my mom was there with me the whole time. I wasn’t always nice to her,but we blame the pain meds and the accident on that. But she stayed right there with me. Even at 32 it’s nice to have your mom around when you need her!! 

    I’m a cryer yes. But I never sit and cry inconsolablely for a hour.  That’s not my norm. So, I can only assume that it was the shock of the accident and concussion I had causing all those tears. The ER Dr told me I had no broken bones or major injuries. Put an immobilizer on my knee and gave me some crutches and sent me out the door. I was glad to go home but the really pain and soreness was just setting in. Man you never believe how much everything is going to hurt for days following an accident until it happens to you. I am still sore and very bruised and it’s been a week today. And I still can’t bear full weight on my leg.  Sigh. We are doing some medical tests and will give my knee another week go see if it heals on its own. 

    So not only am I deal with my pain and emotions from the car wreck. I am now dealing with the fact that I lost my job. I understand where they are coming from. My absences make it hard to count on me. And now that I can drive or work until the dr clears me. (We are going to test my heart and do an eeg to see if I’m having seizures.) That means I have no idea how long it will be before I am cleared to work or drive. I am not mad at my boss as I know she is looking out for her patients. And right now they need someone who can be there all the time. She did say that if I ever want to come back I can. That I’ve not burned any bridges. This company was fantastic to work for. And they went above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed. And gave me more chances than anyone else would have with my absences. But It still sucks because I have to go pick up all my belongings thatbwere in my office. Which is sad bc I loved my job and I’m sad that part of my life is over. 

    Now the question is what am I going to do for money $$. Because sadly we can’t live free in today’s society.  I have become a distributor for the makeup company Senegence. And in doing so have been able to make decent money. So I’m praying that I can continue to grow my buisness and that I can do this and not have to go to work again outside the house at least not right away!! If not I am not sure what route I will go. Only time will tell!! 

    So many emotions and thoughts are swirling through my head. Who would have ever guessed that losing your car in an accident could be so emotional. I guess for most it’s probably not. But buying that car was the last thing my grandpa and I did together before he passed several years ago. So I feel like that car was my last earthly connection I have to him. And that’s hard.  Because I miss him so much everyday. 

    Anyway, I’m a little rusty on this whole blogging thing if you can’t tell. My thoughts have been all over the place. Which for a Lupie isn’t that strange but usually my writing is better than this. But I wanted to share my thoughts and what has been going on in my life. I promise I will now be getting back into blogging now that I have a little more free time!!

    Love always ❤️

    Amber 

    Alternative Therapy to Treat Fibromyalgia 

    Fibromyalgia……..Is defined as a widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances and memory issues. At this time there is no cure and no definite treatment. The standard treatments right now are pain killers, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. These help reduce the symptoms but don’t really treat the condition as a whole. So many people will turn to alternative therapies to help control the symptoms of their fibromyalgia! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular alternative therapies.
    One of the most popular natural therapies is YOGA. There are several studies that show that yoga may help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia Researchers for pain have linked yoga to lower levels of fibromyalgia-related pain among those who participate in yoga. Another study published by the Journal Of Pain showed that people who participated in a 75 minute yoga class twice a week for eight weeks reported less pain and had a lower stress hormone cortisol level.
    Another popular alternative or natural therapy is meditation. Dr. Daniel Lewis says that meditation may change the way your brain functions and helping to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia. A study published in Current Pain and Headache Reports stated that meditation can relieve fibromyalgia-related pain. Meditation may help calm the mind and ease the body, promoting deep rest and relaxation. End result it may help your body heal itself.

    5 HTP has also found to be a popular treatment. It is a natural Amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, which is the chemical that helps control mood. An article published by the Rheumatolgy International suggested that 5HTP may help Improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It can help to relieve pain, ease morning stiffness, fatigue, and possibly anxiety!
    Even though it sounds scary, there has been a lot of research that shows acupuncture can help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Especially pain symptoms. With acupuncture one or more dry needles is inserted into the skin and underlying tissues at a specific point. Then the needle is gently twisted or manipulated causing a measurable release of endorphins into the bloodstream. (Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.) One acupuncture treatment for some may last weeks to help alleviate chronic pain. A recent study showed patients who had acupuncture had a decrease pain and increased quality of life.
    Chiropractic care is a very common complementary or alternative care for fibromyalgia. It is used to treat pain in pressure point areas, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain etc. Chiropractic care may be effective care for fibromyalgia because it may reduce pain levels and increase cervical and lumbar ranges of motion. Chiropractic care is based on the principle that the body is a self healing organism. To reduce pain and increase healing the chiropractor will adjust the back. The goal being to restore normal transmission nervous impulses by  increasing the mobility between vertebrae, which may have become restricted, or slightly out of proper position.
    There are several herbal agents that are used to treat in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Here are just a few:
    SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine)-This amino acid derivative may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, another brain chemical. Limited research suggests SAMe may improve mood and sleep.

    MAGNESIUM -Low levels of this element may be linked to improving fibromyalgia symptoms. However, research has not turned up solid evidence that taking magnesium supplements improves symptoms.

    MELATONIN-This natural hormone is often used in supplements to help improve someone’s sleep patterns. It may also ease fibromyalgia pain.

    ST JOHNS WORT- Though this herb is sometimes used to treat certain fibromyalgia symptoms, there’s no solid evidence that it works. A few studies suggest it may help with mild depression. But it can also limit the effectiveness of some medications.

    There are many options for alternative therapies for the treatment of fibromyalgia, I’ve only covered a few here. Remember that you always need to check with your healthcare provider before starting any alternative therapy. I hope that something here will help you and give you some relief.

    -Amber

    Resources:

    http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-treatments-for-fibromyalgia

    http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/natural-therapies-and-alternative-treatments-for-fibromyalgia
    http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/fibromyalgia-natural-remedies#8

    How do you deal with Depression?

    Depression is something that just comes along with having a chronic illness. And the winter season seems to make it worse because you are not able to go out doors and keep up with the things you like to do. So what do you do to deal with it? What tips do you have for dealing with depression and making your life a little easier this time of year?  A lot of research has been done on his area and there are lots of ideas out there to deal with depression.  So here we go!

    For MILLIONS of people living with a chronic illness and depression is a fact of life. According to WebMD Depression is one of the most common complications for those who have a chronic illness. It can be estimated that nearly one-third of people with some type of medical condition will show symptoms of depression. There is really no question why the two go hand in hand. When you have some sort of chronic illness it changes how you live your life, can limit your mobility and just make everything harder.  That Chronic Illness like Lupus can cause you not to be able to do the things that you like to do and can eat away at your self-confidence. Medications taken for said conditions can also have side effects of depression.  So it can some time look like a no-win battle.

    Any illness that is around for a long time can trigger depression. In general, the risk of chronic illness and depression gets higher with the more severe conditions. In general the risk of depression is generally 10-25% for women and 5-12% for men, in the healthy population. However, those with chronic illness are at a mich higher risk of depression which a 25-33% risk.  The risk is also much higher for anyone who has a history of depression.

    When a person with chronic illness develops depression it often times makes the condition worse.  Especially in conditions that cause pain or fatigue. Depression can truly increase a persons pain and fatigue. When you combine depression and chronic illness may lead the person to isolation. Which then in turn can make the depression worse. It’s a never ending cycle it appears.

    If you think you are developing depression what kinds of signs should you watch for? Many times they are overlooked because one might think that what they are feeling is just a part of their illness. People will assume that feeling sad is just part of being diagnosed with a long term illness and are often masked. This leads to the symptoms being treated but not the depression itself. However, BOTH the symptoms and the depression need to be treated.

    How can you treat depression? There are many options out there for those who develop or have always had depression. Early diagnosis and treatment can help ease any distress the patient feels, and the risk of complications and suicides. In many cases treatment for depression can improve a persons overall medical condition,  and increase the persons quality of life. As well, as increasing the likelihood of sticking to a long term treatment plan.  When the depressive symptoms a person is feeling is related to an illness or the side effect of a medication. The doctor may need to adjust or change the treatment regimen. When the depression is a stand alone condition it should be treated on its own.  Greater than 80% of those who have depression can be treated with medication successfully, psychotherapy or a combination of both.  The hard part with medications for depression is that they can take several weeks to truly take effect. So it is important that the patient stays in contact with their physicians during that time to ensure all goes well.

    Now what can you do to live with depression?  What tips can we provide for you? Here are a few that may help you.

    • Try to avoid isolation. Find ways to reach out to family and friends. If you don’t have a good solid support system work to build one. Your Doctor or Therapist should have a list of support groups or be able to give you a list of community resources.
    • Take the time to learn as much as you can about your condition. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best treatment for your condition. And give you a sense of independence and control.
    • Make sure that you have support from medical experts you trust and who you can talk to openly about any ongoing questions or concerns.
    • If you think that your medications might be bringing you down, talk to your doctor about other possible treatment options.
    • Make sure to have a conversation with your doctor about pain management.
    • It is essential that you try to continue doing the things you have always done. Staying connected can help boost your self-confidence as well as your sense of community.
    • If you start to feel depressed or think you are becoming depressed DONT WAIT. Talk to your Doctor or Therapist as soon as you can.

    Resources:

    http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/chronic-illnesses-depression

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-steps-for-coping-with-a-chronic-condition

    What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

    Before sitting down to write this I did quite a bit of research to find the best recommendations to improves ones sleep. Things that we all haven’t heard multiple times The best recommdations I found came from Spark People. I will provide the link to the article at the end of this post.  So here we go…. One step closer to better sleep.

    When you live with chronic pain, headaches, an autoimmune disease or an old nagging injury from the past it makes it hard to get solid rest.  Which then throws you into the, what seems like, the never-ending cycle of escalating pain and sleeplessness. Due to the fact that when you hurt most of the time you just can’t sleep. 

    Pain doesn’t just cause you problems falling asleep and staying asleep. It makes an impact on the KIND of sleep you get when you are able to sleep.  However, sleep has so many benefits for your health, more than just staving off pain.  Sleep has a huge impact on your brain and how it learns, and how it remembers things.  Sleep helps to bolster the immune system, keeps moods stable, and helps to reduce stress. It has been said that sleep can even reduce the intensity and duration of pain. So lets dive into the tips for sleeping better.

    – Adjsut your pillow. 

    Okay this one may seen silly and obvious, but if you have pain in your neck or back, sleeping on your stomach can actually make the pain worse. Due to the fact that it causes your spine to arch and your neck to twist. Always check with your physician before making any big adjustments to your sleep position.  So how can we change this? Body pillows can help reinforce the changes in position you are making.  One Suggestion is that if you have back pain, sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees can help the back pain as well as preventing those bony prominences and help keep your hips in alignment.  If you have more neck pain than back pain you might want to consider looking into a an orthopedic or contoured pillow could provide support. It is also important about to think about other places you might sleep. So make sure you have a travel pillow if you fly a lot or are in the car for long periods. 

    – Practice Mindfulness 

    Do you have a hard time turning your attention away from the pain while you are lying in bed at night? Here are some examples of simple, pain-reducing techniques.

    • Set a timer for about 5 minutes
    • Find a comfortable position and lie down
    • Focus on your breathing. Take notice of your lungs expanding and contracting as you breath in and out for a few moments. 
    • Try to put yourself in a natural frame of mind (I know easier said than done). For some it might help to imagine cares and worries sailing or floating away.
    • Think about your thoughts but do not label them “good” or “bad.”
    • If a negative thought pops up like (I’m never going to sleep because this pain is just so terrible) acknowledge the thought and then put it aside and go back to focusing on your breathing.

    – Relieve Muscle Tension

    Take time to make time in your schedule for pain-management techniques that work for you. These could be things like a hot bath, an ice or heating pad, or a few moments of focused slow and deep breathing. Common relaxation rituals, such as listening to calming music, aromatherapy (lavender works best for sleep), and relaxing aching muscles to break the cycle of pain and may help you drift off to sleep more easily. 

    – Only go to bed when you are feeling sleepy 

    A person can NOT will themself to sleep.  In fact, the more you focus on falling asleep, oftentimes the harder it will be to fall asleep.  If you have been unable to go to sleep after 20-30 mins of lying down, you should get up.  Get up and go do something soothing, like knitting or reading your favorite book. 

    – Adjust the room temperature

    There is no one temperature that will work for Everyone, but as a general rule you will sleep better if you are in a cool environment. 

    – Get Strategic 

    Sleep hygiene and the habits you follow around bedtime can make a big difference in how well you will sleep.  Below are some suggestions to improve your sleep hygiene and give some examples of things you might want to implement into your bedtime ritual. 

    • Limit environmental noise at night (like a snoring spouse) or wear earplugs.
    • Make your bed just that a place to sleep and to be intimate, not a place for work or media viewing. 
    • Go to bed and get up on a schedule. Seven days a week. (Even on the weekends)
    • Try to avoid long naps especially late in the afternoon or evening. 
    • Limit caffeine &/or alcohol intake in the hours before bed.
    • Exercise daily but not within three hours of going to bed.
    • Limit time spent using electronics of any kind before bed.
    • Try to avoid sharing your bed–or your room– with pets, which can disrupt your sleep.

    – Rethink your Attitude

    When you are constantly thinking and dwelling on your pain it can impact your life negatively. Thus making it harder to sleep. So try to schedule a fun disctraction, even something as simple as reading a book or favoriate magazine.Doing so can take your mind off of the sleep  and pain issues at hand and make it easier for you to fall asleep. 

    – Consider Supplements  

    Supplements such as Melatonin which is a sleep promoter may help you get the much-needed sleep without needing a prescription for sleep. If you want to take this route, make sure to check with your physician before starting any over the counter medications. 

    – Rule Out Other Underlying Conditions

    When you pain is not tolerable,  sleep is virtually impossible  If the other options haven’t worked for you, you should talk to your doctor.  And discuss your daily pain levels and how to balance your day to day function with pain relief. Ask directly about the pain that occurs near bed time and ask if there are any medications that you might be able to use for nighttime pain relief, if appropriate. 

    A quick conversation with your PCP during a routine visit can help by ruling out conditions that might be causing your inability to sleep (or sleep well).  This conversation could help rule out sleep apnea and ensure  that meds you are already taking are not interfering with your sleep. 

    Sleep has such a major impact on your daily life that it is essential that you are able to find a way to get that good restorative sleep. By getting that good sleep there is a good chance that you will also be able to decrease your pain.  And breaks that no sleep, lots of pain cycle
    I hope you find some of this information helpful. It is a little different information that we often times will hear form our physicians. May you be able to find “the spot” and start sleeping a little better.

    ~Amber

    Resources

    • http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1841
    • Http://www.spine-health.com/blog/5-little-known-tips-sleeping-chronic-pain 

    Sleep….. Why have you forsaken me?

    Sleep….. Something many of us really enjoy doing. It’s a good way to pass the time if you are bored. It is how our body refuels itself for the next day. It’s just plain good for us. In fact most doctors will tell you that you need at least 8 hours of GOOD sleep. Good sleep is a whole new ballgame. I’m going to make a generalization here and say that most people with Lupus or Fibromyalgia or many other illnesses have trouble with sleep.  We as a population are the ones who probably need it the most.  Lack of sleep can cause so many problems for all of us. It can cause difficulty sleeping, errors at the workplace. And just plain make you feel like crap.

    It seems to me like my insomnia comes in waves. I do really well for awhile and am sleeping at night like a normal person. And then BAM something hits and throws me totally off.  Like for the last two weeks. It is usually 3 in the morning before I can finally go to sleep, and then I only sleep for a few short hours.  It seems like being sick with the flu is what triggered this episode. But it is so frustrating when you just lay there and look at the ceiling and can’t go to sleep.  Lately I have tried everything to sleep. You name it I’ve tried it. Hot baths, soothing music. Something has to change especially if I am going to go back to work soon. I will need that sleep.  So my goal for today is to research methods to help you sleep without taking a sleeping pill. So be watching for that post with tips and tricks to make sleeping easier.  Now it’s time for me to take a nap.  #lifeofalupie

    ~Amber

    Job Hunting with a Chronic Illness

    Job hunting alone can be daunting, now add a chronic illness and it can be downright scary. There are so many variables that can make the job hunt more difficult. How you are feeling daily to actually look for a job can make the hunt difficult. Then you add things like physical manifestations of your disease such as a limp, or being unable to walk without an aide. Or even your weakened immune system dictating what kind of jobs you might be able to consider.

    So what are things we can do to make job hunting a little easier on ourself and more productive?  Below are some recommendations that can do just that that were found while looking for ideas to improve my own job hunt. Many of the suggestions came from Healthcenter.com, and monster.com. I will link the direct sites at the end of the blog.

    1.  Talk with your medical team before starting to look for a job.

    They may have restrictions for you that you are unaware of that might dictate what kind of jobs you could apply for. Also, maybe there are medication changes that could be made. For instance maybe you will need to cut your pain pills so they don’t cloud your judgement. So they might be able to recommend options that could work without jeopardizing your safety.  There also might be other treatment options available for your disease that you are not aware of. They might also be able to get you started with some physical or occupational therapy that would make working easier for you.

    2. Network 

    People in your profession might know of openings before they are actually posted. So they could be a great benefit to your search. Just remember that you don’t want to pester people in the process.

    3. Find a way to STAND OUT in your field. 

    This may be one of the most difficult of the options discussed. As people with Chronic Illness often have low self-esteem due to the things that they have gone through. That being said it will be important that you find a way to make yourself stand out to the hiring manager or company.  This can be done by finding a way to make others know how great you are, without boasting.  (If you do have trouble with self-esteem you might want to consider seeing a counselor or someone that could help you find healthy ways to build your self-esteem.)

    4. Contact a Career Counselor

    This could be helpful if you are changing professions or just need help finding some options in your preferred profession. They can also help you create a resume and cover letter that will help to make you and your skills STAND OUT.

    5. Develop a thick skin

    This will be most important because you are not going to get every job you apply for or even interview for. So it will be important that you develop a thick skin and you don’t get hurt by every rejection. Rejection happens to all of us and is just a part of life.

    6. DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR CONDITION

    There most likely will come a time when you need to disclose your condition(s) to an employer. However, the application and/or interview process is not that time. Employers are always looking for a reason to delete Candidates from their list of options so they can narrow it down to the best person for THEIR job. It is best that you keep your condition to yourself until/if there comes a time when you need to talk about accommodations for your new positions. The only time it would be okay to bring up your condition(s) would be if it would directly relate to how you will/would be able to do the new job.

    Hopefully you find all of these tips helpful if you are looking for a new job or career. They have the potential to change the job hunting game.
    For further information on this topic please check out:

    Http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/181117/chronic-illness/

    Https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/when-to-reveal-a-disability-job-hunt

    -Amber